"Urban whore" train wrecks Scientific American's holiday weekend

I. Dr. Danielle Lee, The Urban Scientist, a contributor at Scientific American, was asked by one of the site's "partner" publications, Biology Online, if she would like to guest-post there without pay. She declined.

II. Dr. Lee, a black woman who writes that she aims to "share science to general audiences, particularly under-served groups", was then asked this by the partner site's editor: "Are you an urban scientist or an urban whore?"

III. Dr. Lee wrote about the exchange on her official Sci Am blog. (Here's a copy)

IV. Sci Am, without notification or warning, deleted her post, and editor-in-chief Mariette DiChristina wrote that "@sciam is a publication for discovering science. The post was not appropriate for this area & was therefore removed."

V. Reasonable, surely?

But obviously untrue: SciAm bloggers frequently wander off the reservation and the postings remain live.

VI. Asked if SciAm had moved to protect a business partner over a minor contributor, DiChristina was forced to publicly deny it; '"Partner" connection not a factor"', she tweeted.

VIII. After being inundated with criticism, for the better part of the weekend, Scientific American finally responded at length:

Unfortunately, we could not quickly verify the facts of the blog post and consequently for legal reasons we had to remove the post. Although we regret that this was necessary, a publisher must be able to protect its interests and Scientific American bloggers are informed that we may remove their blog posts at any time when they agree to blog for us.

Unconvincing, especially given the lack of any apparent communication from Dr. Lee's interlocutor. "We are investigating what links we currently have with Biology-Online" seems somewhat ill-omened, too.

Notable Replies

  1. Glitch says:

    I was simply being facetious, but glad to know we're being monitored. stuck_out_tongue

    Hopefully you'll be unneeded. I'd like to believe in this community's capacity to overcome negative emotional responses and to set aside personal anger or frustration in the face of disagreements.

  2. Felton says:

    Moderator's note: If you can't comment without being insulting, please don't comment.

Continue the discussion bbs.boingboing.net

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